The Uncle Albert’s trick – juxtapose, juxtapose, juxtapose

ONE

“Uncle Albert – Admiral Halsey” is a Paul McCartney’s song from the album RAM (1971). Here’s a little text I found on songfacts :

McCartney combined pieces of various unfinished songs to create this; in the later years of The Beatles, they did this a lot as a way to put unfinished songs to good use. As a result, “Uncle Albert – Admiral Halsey” contains 12 different sections over the course of its 4:50 running time. This jumble of musical textures, comic character voices, sound effects and changing tempos turned off a lot of listeners, but many others thought it was brilliant. The song wasn’t released as a single in the UK, but in America it became McCartney’s first #1 hit as a solo artist.

Oh, lovely, isn’t it?

I love this song, because it prevents you from drowning after one minute of a “cool seventies slow” with noises, surprises, changes. A big smile gets bigger all along : “Is Macca silly?”. Yeah!

TWO

There’s a famous Medley at the end of the Beatles album “Abbey Road”. McCartney says that they wanted to create a sort of “opera structure”. Lennon despised it, though. It’s considered today as one summit of the group.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbey_Road

THREE

When you listen to that (structure, noises, guitars), you think about Pink Floyd, who created in the Seventies like the epitome of this structured, fractured tracks sticked together in long classical-music-like “movements”.

Some examples : Pink Floyd “Pigs” (11 mn), Supertramp “Fool’s Overture” (11 mn), Genesis “Firth of Fifth” (9 mn).

FOUR

The pleasure is bigger than the juxtaposition of tracks, you get pleasure in transitions (closing door, opening door), in contrasts, you get it in subsequent modulations, you build like a “little travel”, like through the rooms of a big surprizing house…

Lennon is funny, when he says it’s a very practical to dispose of music you don’t know what to do with!

Lennon is COOL because he uses this game, in a fractal way, in other songs like Did A Pony, sticking words together (like Dylan, he says) to see if something appears, AND sticking two different song together to make a new song.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juxtaposition : Throughout the arts, juxtaposition of elements is used to elicit a response within the audience’s mind, such as creating meaning from the contrast, an abrupt change of elements. In film, the position of shots next to one another (which montage is) is intended to have this effect.

FIVE

So here we are, on the path of Progressive Rock! But there are differences. Prog rock wants to build long pieces – maybe with “parts” -, and they are damned serious!!

McCartney and The Beatles constructions are more like… medleys. This + this + that. And they have fun!

https://afrenchtoolbox.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/the-juxtaposition-principle/

SIX

My principle/tool is :

  • Choose the elements you already have and want to get rid of (things must probably be of the same nature (music + music))
  • Juxtapose – stick!
  • Be conscious of transitions
  • Choose the order of parts
  • Don’t take it too seriously
  • Try, try, try

Whether you use it in poetry, novel writing, music, have fun!

Thanks for reading!

Here’s MGMT, 12 minutes of

Mike Oldfield, 24 minutes :

Autodidact or else-taught? Rules or whatiffing things?

Autodidact or else-taught? Rules or whatiffing things?

Big laugh hearing Paul McCartney he can’t read music nor name the complex chords he uses in music.

Explaining that he and John Lennon learned a bunch of new chords (and some complex ones!) watching other groups in Hambourg, or the guitar salesman’s hands in a Liverpool music instruments store, or playing other groups music.

They made a “chords stock” – and more : learned how to combine them into songs!

Lennon is said to be a composer who were used to “stack bits of songs”, even dangerously.

How does this evolve? What’s the structure of A Day in The Life? How many songs here, into one? :

Macca helped creating an Art School called LIPA in Liverpool, where he “teaches” music sometimes to some luck students.

He said in this conversation that he can’t teach music, because he knows no “rules” in making a good song – that makes people smile! He just helps the students to quit the normal, ordinary, boring, predictable ways.

Here’s a cool example, an ordinary Macca song, not a hit, it’s the first song from “Chaos and Creation in the Backyard” (which is a title I love). Fine Line :

Boring ordinay until 1’06”, where the piano wrings the song in risky harmonies like in a bridge (that soon?). When the second verse begins at 1’19” the rhythm is slowed down already. Strings come, and at 2’09” there’s another cool part, before coming back to the strange piano pulsation, ending in an oblique obsessive modal repetition…

It’s not even a great song! But I find it elegant, casual, there’s a freedom here, in the way the song unfolds into unexpected little ideas. I can almost find the “what if I do that?” pleasure into this music…

All this not in avant-garde craziness, but in a small song!

The tool is structural : Follow rules or try things? Stay on the road or try little paths? Go on a line, or draw yours? Where to do that : life, love, poetry, writing, marketing, photography?

Sorry for my frenchy English, sorry for the Beatles obsession, it’ll go soon, probably. Have a nice day!

Thanks for reading!

My best unknown Beatles songs

Here are a few Beatles songs I love.

For No One, a strange discarnate and quiet 4/4 waltz-like song written by McCartney for Revolver, to describe the end of a love story. Everything seems perfect in this song : the piano, the drums, the chorus modulations, the French horn, very little reverb (giving an intimacy), the non-ending end…

It’s a jewel, and one of the favorite songs of Lennon, who adored it.

Your day breaks, your mind aches
You find that all the words of kindness linger on
When she no longer needs you

She wakes up, she makes up
She takes her time and doesn’t feel she has to hurry
She no longer needs you

And in her eyes you see nothing
No sign of love behind the tears
Cried for no one
A love that should have lasted years!

If I Fell is a Lennon song I adore because of its brutal modulations : it’s clearly a “chords game” – they change all the time!

If I fell in love with you
Would you promise to be true
And help me understand
‘Cause I’ve been in love before
And I found that love was more
Than just holding hands

Because, By John Lennon, on Abbey Road, has harpsichord and Moog (!), and splendid “three-parts backing vocals”.

Because the world is round it turns me on
Because the world is round, ah

Because the wind is high it blows my mind
Because the wind is high, ah

Love is old, love is new
Love is all, love is youBecause the sky is blue, it makes me cry
Because the sky is blue, ah

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!

How to go back to quiet silent daydreaming summers ?

When I was a teenager, let’s say in 1981, there were 3 channels on French TV (TF1, Antenne 2 et France 3). Music was on some LPs, and there was no Internet, no Pokemon Go, no cellphone. Some rare rich fathers had an Apple II. The Sinclair ZX-81 was just showing its nose…

Useless to say that when you got something “interesting” into your hands, it was amazing.

I remember that summer ! I was 15, and I got this Casio Programmable Calculator FX-702P, and I asked my parents to order a few L’Ordinateur de Poche, a magazine about these new “Pocket Computers”.

I read them, re-read them, tried every Basic program, and spent weeks trying to program a standard Battleship – not the game, just a way to “place the boats” (one the size of 4 squares, two 3 squares, three 2 squares and four 1 square – the submarines !). The memory of my Casio was too small so I had think about a way to optimize it (interlacing 2 loops, etc).

This summer I borrowed some LPs. The Blue Beatles sampler, with the lyrics, kept me busy for weeks.

I remember me as a kid watching clouds for hours in summers. La rêverie is a pretty good French word for daydreaming (we could say “dreamery”, right ?). Getting bored, at this time, at this age, was triggering imagination instead of Netflix…

Slumber or Torpor ? I think I didn’t find the good english word to translate our “torpeur”. When the sun is brûlant, days are long and quiet, tout est calme et you don’t have any mission or money to make/win. You watch clouds and just try to be happy. You play frisbee, you watch ants, you bike with friends. Les merveilleux nuages…

Lever : You really can find back this state. You just have to cut THREE things : TV, Smartphone, and Internet. Nothing much after all…

Then you will have to search in the old “real” world (books, things in attics, CDs and LPs). This provides a bouquet of another things : a slower focused brain rhythm, a hunger, a desire to create maybe, some imagination, some creativity.

It can also trigger a big boredom too. Well… C’est la vie !

 

#casio #vintage #fx702p #calculator
#casio #vintage #fx702p #calculator

Reason & Pleasure : An Interesting Braid

Why, and how does music bring us pleasure?

I understood one day that human beings love music for very different reasons.  Melodies, the energy of dance, or the voice of a singer, nostalgia of an era or personal moment, to feel part of a community, for solos or the virtuosity of an instrumentalist, for a “sound”, or a production work.  Some people stay stuck their entire life on the Beatles, or Yes, or a single singer – Callas and everything around her. Why not?

Today I wonder, and I turn down the dial, or one of the cursors on musical pleasure.

1 – At the beginning of this dial you’ll find pure simple pleasure. You listen to Brahms‘ German Requiem and you feel bliss: “That is beautiful” bravo, and good for you.

2 – In the middle of the dial, reason and culture begin to become important.  You know where Brahms is in the historical timeline of classical music (say, between Mozart and Ravel), and you know a little of what’s happening in the music (here’s a soprano, there, woodwinds are playing a fascinating part with the horns…).

3 – At the end side of the dial, there is the connoisseur listener.  He is knowledgeable in the other works of Brahms, reads the sheet music, and understands what forces are in play (articulations of the different movements of the Requiem, what is said in the texts, how the instruments work together, etc…).

One could say this dial moves “from pleasure to reason,” but it’s not that simple. Why? Because the specialist, who is plunged into analysis and reason, is feeling pleasure as much as the amateurs.

More: I think that his pleasure is multiplied tenfold.

Tool: What is this strange way to mix reason and pleasure? Can we apply this to other territories (seduction, poetry, warfare ?), and how would this look?

What is this pleasure? Who knows the mechanisms of its birth?

How do we weave the braid made from different forces?

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